Preparations are feverishly underway for the Liverpool International Horse Show. It is barely a fortnight since the closing class of this year’s Ashford Farm CSI4* Bolesworth International took place, but Liverpool planning is already off and running under the visionary direction of Nina Barbour.
Bolesworth was Barbour’s brainchild, and it has won rave reviews from riders, owners, sponsors and spectators, who flocked to the Cheshire countryside last month for a show that looks destined to reach the heights of five-star status sooner, rather than later.
The same meticulous preparation is now going into Liverpool, a world-class indoor show that will run from January 1 to 3, 2016, across six sessions of action and entertainment at Liverpool’s waterfront Echo Arena.
Acts like Duran Duran, Status Quo, Jimmy Carr and Michael McIntyre will headline the venue later this year, but it will all be about horsepower on New Year’s Day.
Liverpool-born London 2012 Olympic-gold medallist Peter Charles has described the prospect of an international horse show taking place in his home city as “brilliant.”
“I didn’t think something like this would happen in my lifetime in Liverpool. I would never have dreamt it. You never say never, though.
“I was there for the launch event, and when you are there, you see the venue and what it can be, then for sure it is very impressive.
“We need shows like this one in the cities — we need showcases for the sport. Nina has a vision, and, with this show and Bolesworth, she has shown what can be done.”
Some will say that British showjumping has not seen such an entrepreneur for the sport as Barbour since revered Hickstead founder Douglas Bunn established the All England Jumping Course and saw it flourish across such prestigious competitions as World Championships, European Championships, Nations Cups, Hickstead Derbies and King George V Gold Cups.
Looking ahead to her Liverpool venture, Barbour said: “We want to bring equestrian sport to the heart of the city. We see this as our Olympic legacy.
“I watched the equestrian events in the heart of London at the 2012 Olympics, and I wanted to bring that kind of world-class sport to the north west of England.
“Liverpool is world-famous for its sporting and entertainment heritage, and we want to put the city on the map as a centre of excellence for showjumping. We are really proud to be working with such a go-ahead city, and we hope we will become a key feature of Liverpool’s sporting and entertainment calendar.”
Scheduled two weeks after the London International Horse Show ends at Olympia, and taking place before many riders head off to America for the Florida Winter Festival, Liverpool promises to attract a host of the world’s leading performers.
Several of them have already savoured the Bolesworth experience, and it will be no surprise if the final entry list reflects many of those who already appreciate how Barbour is changing British showjumping’s landscape.
The Sussex-based world number one showjumper, Scott Brash, said: “It is amazing what Bolesworth are doing. It is just what our sport needs in Great Britain, someone like Nina Barbour doing everything that she is doing. To get a four-star show is great, and I hear she has got even bigger plans, moving forward.”
American star Laura Kraut added: “Bolesworth is a really special place. It is showjumping at its best. I was meant to go to Rotterdam this year, and I specifically didn’t go because I wanted to support Nina. What she is trying to do is so important, to have a show of this calibre in England.”
Liverpool will soon take its place on the British equestrian calendar, with three more red-letter days for showjumping unfolding.